What kind of gift would make you feel truly appreciative? No doubt most of us would be happy to receive a gift from a giver who is motivated by love rather than by a sense of duty or obligation. When it comes to giving, motive matters. It matters to us. And more important, it matters to God. Consider the inspired words of the apostle Paul recorded at 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Why did Paul write those words? He wanted to encourage the Corinthian Christians to support the relief work for their needy fellow believers in Judea. Did he try to force the Corinthians to give? On the contrary, he wrote: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Let us take a closer look at that admonition.
“Just as he has resolved in his heart.” A genuine Christian gives because he has decided “in his heart” to do so, notes Paul. At the same time, a Christian devotes more than passing attention to the needs of his fellow worshippers. The original-language word rendered “resolved” “has the idea of predetermination,” says one scholar. So a Christian ponders the needs of fellow believers and asks himself what he can do to fill those needs.—1 John 3:17.
“Not grudgingly or under compulsion.” Paul notes two types of giving that have no place among true Christians—reluctant and forced. The Greek expression rendered “grudgingly” literally means “out of sadness (or, grief).” A grudging, or reluctant, giver gives “from a heart made sorrowful at the thought of parting with money,” explains one reference work. A forced giver gives because he feels pressured to do so. Who of us really wants to receive a gift from a reluctant or forced giver?
“God loves a cheerful giver.” Once a Christian decides to give, he should do so cheerfully, or with joy, says Paul. Indeed, happiness is a by-product of giving that is properly motivated. (Acts 20:35) The cheerful giver can hardly hide his joy. In fact, the term “cheerful” could very well describe both the inward feeling and the outward expression of the giver. A cheerful giver touches our heart. He also warms God’s heart. Another translation says: “God loves people who love to give.”—Contemporary English Version.
“God loves people who love to give”
The inspired words of the apostle Paul are a guiding principle for Christian giving. Whether we are giving of our time, energy, or material possessions, let us do so of our own free will and because we find genuine pleasure in being generous to others, especially those in need. Such giving will not only make us happy but also endear us to God, for he “loves a cheerful giver.”